Cathay Pacific Discovery HCMC SHOPPING
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International designers are playing a big part in making Ho Chi Minh City Southeast Asia’s next big thing
by Samantha Coomberphotos by Peter StuCkingS
I n just a few years, shopping in Ho Chi Minh City has gone from predominately mass-produced, cheap and cheerful goods to cutting-edge quality designs. This is largely thanks to pioneering
international designers who not only create, design and retail in Vietnam’s shopping and design capital, but also make it their home. They come inspired by exceptional Vietnamese tradesmanship and centuries-old craft industries such as lacquer, silk and embroidery.
With an abundance of locally sourced materials, creative freedom and a booming economy, these designers have created a successful fusion of tradi-tional indigenous craftwork and styles with high-quality standards, contemporary international designs and environment-friendly practices. As a result, uniquely Vietnamese products exuding originality and flair are the hallmarks of the city’s new breed of stylish individual stores aimed at visitors and locals alike.
Dragon Smile’s bamboo vases are a testament to local craftmanship
DiSCover Vietnam 發現�越南
ipa-nima is a handbag nirvana set amid the bustle of
ho Chi minh City’s traffic 位於胡志明市繁囂大街上的
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Dragon SmiLeLacquer is one of Vietnam’s oldest and celebrated crafts, but it is companies such as European family-led Dragon Smile which have cleverly transported it into the 21st century. Operating out of Ho Chi Minh City for more than a decade, Dragon Smile’s team of international and Vietnamese designers work closely with local artisans – respecting their lacquer expertise – to produce quality products all polished to a flawless, sleek finish.
Dragon Smile pays homage to traditionally-
influenced lacquer styles, such as gold and silver leaf inserted into translucent layers. However, it is the striking contemporary designs which stand out. Many of the lacquer furniture pieces and homewares – including bowls, trays and tealight holders – are funky and innovative with abstract shapes in unconventional matte tones, incorpo-rating bold colours such as tomato red. Slivers of bamboo, a beloved Vietnamese icon, create a pop-art effect on giant floor vases.
Its downtown flagship store will be a hit with visitors seeking a refined Vietnamese souvenir. 74/5 hai ba trung, District one, +84 8 823 1788www.dragon-smile.com
gaya This is a creative partnership between several international designers who are residents of Ho Chi Minh City and other parts of South-east Asia. Spotting a gap in the market, they created Vietnam’s first international designer show-room. With its multi-level, open-plan interiors and high-quality designs, Gaya was a pioneering retail concept in the city when it opened in 2003.
Gaya serves as a retail outlet and showroom for the export creations of designers and offers unique fashions, accessories, furniture, homewares and gifts for the design-conscious shopper, created with international standards of design, manufac-turing practices and finishes. Most of Gaya’s prod-ucts are hand-crafted in Vietnam. Gaya opens a second shop on Corner Le Lai Street this month. 39 ton that thiep, District one, +84 8 914 3769; 1 nguyen van trang Street, Corner Le Lai Street, District one, +84 8 914 3769 www.gayavietnam.com
gaya’s showroom was a pioneering concept when it opened (above)
michele de albert tea set at gaya (right)
gaya售賣的michele de albert茶具（右圖）
old meets new at Dragon Smile
Dragon Smile 擅於中西合璧
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embroidered army jackets at mai’s
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mantraThree innovative international designers residing in Ho Chi Minh City and bonded by common ideals created Mantra. The combination of the stark minimalist showroom, hands-on designer approach and “wow factor” designs offer shoppers an exciting retail concept.
British-Indian Anupa Horvil, Indian Vivek Chaudhary and Australian Kevin Lane bring their own individual flair and diverse backgrounds, yet comple-ment each other in Mantra’s creative output. Refusing to follow trends, they design quality products that are environmentally friendly and sustainable, incorpo-rating elements of Vaastu Sastra, the ancient Indian science of architecture, to create a harmonious living environment with practical considerations.
mai’S One of the original Vietnamese “boat people”, Mai Lam returned two decades later from Australia in 1996 to her native city, where she has become one of Vietnam’s hottest and most innovative designers. Mai’s exquisite fashions, jewellery and accessories plus an evolving range of lifestyle items are show-cased in her stylish, eponymous flagship store.
Located inside the Hotel Continental, Mai’s mixes a Harley-Davidson motorbike, framed antique Man-darin robes and lacquer artworks. Mai’s trademark classic yet funky urban designs are handmade locally using traditional production methods and feature rich, natural fabrics and a distinctive “distressed” look as well as intricate, multi-dimensional embroidery.
The store’s décor and designs are tinged with personal historical references, Vietnamese culture and a mix of old and contemporary.g/F, hotel Continental, 132-134 Dong khoi Street, District one, +84 8 827 2733 www.mailam.com.vn
All designs are hand-crafted in Viet-nam. Inspired by the country’s outstand-ing traditional craftsmanship, Mantra’s designers aim to prove that Vietnamese designs can rival the best elsewhere.
A fusion of traditional and contempo-rary styles and techniques, plus intrigu-ing combinations of materials results in “contemporary antiques” that attract an eclectic mix of shoppers seeking something different. Ever-changing designs feature chic leather bags and
accessories from Horvil and furniture, lighting and interior décor by Chaudhary and Lane – from towering lacquered floor lamps to marble table lights and frames. 84 Pho Duc Chinh, District one, +84 8 915 1473 www.mantravietnam.com
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Leather passport holder, vietnam style
harmonious homeware at mantra
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SongMeaning “to live” in Vietnamese, SONG is a lifestyle and fashion concept inspired by nature, blending traditional embroidery with a modern eco-friendly ethos. Founded by French designer and Ho Chi Minh City resident Valerie Gregori McKenzie, SONG captures the essence of tropical life with high-end vacation and resort-inspired clothing, bags and accessories in addition to home furnishings.
SONG’s fabrics are natural, ethically sourced and have a low environmental impact – mainly cotton, linen, hemp and silk. The designers divide their time between Paris and Ho Chi Minh City and production takes place in workshops and a pioneering “green” factory in Vietnam.
McKenzie is a strong advocate of preserving Vietnamese embroidery and most SONG items are hand-stitched by skilled artisans. The flag-ship Ho Chi Minh City store sells signature crisp linen kaftans, soft cotton yoga attire, silk bed quilts and brocade boudoir cushions, attracting the well-heeled sensitive to SONG’s handmade workmanship, green practices and style. SONG’s creations are sold at dedicated
domestic stores and are available overseas in more than 30 countries.
76D Le thanh ton, District one, +84 8 824 6986
iPa-nimaHandbag nirvana Ipa-Nima retails a range of multi-sized flamboyant, funky, coquettish and vintage handbags in bold, vibrant colours – all exuding atti-tude. The uber-glamorous, highly original Ipa-Nima is the creation of Hong Kong designer Christina Yu, who established her high-end accessories label and flagship store in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.
Utilising the superb craftsmanship of Vietnam-ese artisans, the wonderfully extravagant bags are crafted to international standards in local workshops around Hanoi and feature complex blends of textures and fabrics plus heavy embellishment techniques by hand, such as embroidery and beading.
Styles range from punk-meets-chic and exotically decadent to classic leather designs with fashion-able twists. The line offers two major seasonal collections which, along with designs exclusive to Vietnam, make attractive collector’s items at affordable prices – a point not lost on tourists,
bags of style at ipa-nima ipa-nima的手袋 時尚出眾
Song strives to be eco-friendly
Song’s products are mostly hand embroidered
Cathay Pacific airways flies three times a day to ho Chi minh City
師Lawson Johnston的布袋蓮藤製家具與法籍設計師Michele de Albert的漆器，是其中的表表者。
mantra英印混血兒Anupa Horvil、印度人Vivek Chaudhary與澳洲人Kevin Lane各有不同的背景與才能，卻為Mantra創製出互相輝映的產品。
時裝mai S 曾是越南「船民」的Mai Lam，於1996年從澳洲回到她的出生地胡志明市，並成為當
Song SONG在越南語是「生活」的意思，由居於胡志明市的法籍設計師Valerie Gregori McKenzie創立，其採用傳統刺繡的服裝以大自然為設計靈感，講求環保理念，旗下的
the girL From iPa-nimaIpa-Nima’s mantra, “Be Original. Be Daring. Be Different”, sums up its founder, Hong Kong-born Christina Yu. A former lawyer, Yu moved to Hanoi and morphed into the High Priestess of Handbags, creating Ipa-Nima in 1997. The first Vietnam-based fashion house to achieve global acclaim, Ipa-Nima bags retail in Ho Chi Minh City and in prestigious stores worldwide, with outlets in Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.
“The vitality and dynamics of Ho Chi Minh City is unrivalled, with huge potential to be the next big hip city in Southeast Asia,” says Yu.
Ipa-Nima designed Cathay Pacific’s exclusive First Class Female Amenity Bag.
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ipa-nima’s bags blend textures
Christina yu executives and celebrities. Ipa-Nima’s Ho Chi Minh City boutiques feature opulent, bohemian interiors with a distinctive boudoir feel –
think purple suede couches and elegant chandeliers. 85 Pasteur Street, District one,
+84 8 824 2701. new World hotel, g/F, 76,
Le Lai Street, District one, +84 8 824 3652
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